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Disentangling Conflict in Cooperative Natural Resource Management: Building a Contextualized Framework for Understanding Complexity in Stakeholder Relationships

Christine E Haney Douglass, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Cooperative natural resource management strategies are used around the world and have been devised with the intention of developing or enhancing stakeholder equity and reduce conflict. However, cooperative management arrangements continue to face conflict and struggle with equity among and between stakeholders. Literature on cooperative management conflict makes assumptions about superficial sources of conflict and does not adequately address underlying issues. This dissertation challenges the process by which cooperative management arrangements identify and resolve sources of conflict. A fully implemented joint-management arrangement, Mutawintji National Park, Nature Reserve and Historic Site (Mutawintji) provided a study for exploration. Research for this study incorporated a GT framework combining multiple theoretical guides (political ecology, post-colonial theory, and feminist study) and qualitative methods (e.g. interviews, participant observation, archival research). Results of this study suggest that ontological and epistemological plurality among stakeholders drives conflict at Mutawintji. Ongoing behavioral processes related to conflict among stakeholders stem from this difference and related exclusion and disenfranchisement. In order to identify these deep, underlying sources of conflict and offer viable, sustainable solutions at Mutawintji and elsewhere, researchers and stakeholders must contextualize their approaches to cooperative natural resource management (CNRM). A contextual CNRM strategy engages the unique attributes, histories and complexities related to social, political, spiritual and economic systems of the stakeholders and region(s) under study. Only by more specifically defining the circumstances of and engaging with stakeholders will durable solutions be feasible. Employing a grounded theory (GT) approach and working toward a theoretical saturation is a practical method for accomplishing this goal. Further, enhancing GT with theoretical guides designed to recognize and empower vulnerable and marginal communities facilitates enduring equity.

Subject Area

Environmental Studies|Natural Resource Management|Environmental Justice

Recommended Citation

Haney Douglass, Christine E, "Disentangling Conflict in Cooperative Natural Resource Management: Building a Contextualized Framework for Understanding Complexity in Stakeholder Relationships" (2017). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10615512.